Pala Kottai Sambar|Tamilnadu Style Jackfruit Seeds Sambar

If you have been reading my Instagram posts, I’m sure you would have read about us getting home this whopper of a jackfruit from a weekend drive to Mysore Road. We had an absolutely delightful experience cutting it open and pigging out on the gorgeous, ripe, beautiful kernels within, an exercise that left us with a whole lot of jackfruit seeds. And, of course, I had to use some of them to make my favourite Pala Kottai Sambar or Tamilnadu Style Jackfruit Seeds Sambar, with some drumsticks added in.

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Pala Kottai Sambar is a heritage Tamilnadu dish, somewhat of a ‘lost recipe’ with not many families preferring to undergo the bit of effort that making it involves. However, it is considered quite the delicacy in the Tamilian households that still continue to make it, especially in the summer, when ripe jackfruits are available aplenty. In my family, we prepare the sambar using home-made powder (sambar podi), without any coconut added to it. The nutty seeds of the jackfruit lend themselves beautifully to the tangy, spicy sambar, a heavenly treat when mixed with some piping hot steamed rice and ghee. So good you don’t even need a curry or any other accompaniment to go with it! Real, proper, soul food this is!

Top: In the mortar are a few ‘stubborn’ seeds, refusing to let go of their white covering; the brown ones on the newspaper have already parted of it; Bottom left: Roughly pounding on the ‘stubborn’ seeds with a pestle makes it easier to peel off the white covering; Bottom right: The seeds, white covering removed, ready to go into the Pala Kottai Sambar

Jackfruit seeds have a white covering on them, when they are fresh out of the fruit. This covering needs to be disposed, and only the inner part of the seed consumed. Keep the seeds spread out on a newspaper in the kitchen for a day or two, sun-drying them for an hour or so, and you will find the white covering drying up, getting plastic-like, and gradually coming off very, very easily. There might be a few seeds where you aren’t able to get off the white covering at all – just pound those seeds roughly in a mortar and pestle, as shown above, and you will find it developing cracks and peeling off easily. You don’t need to scrape off the brown layer on the seeds – after the white part is removed, the seeds are ready to be used as is.

Now that I have told you how to prep the seeds, let me move on to the preparation of the Pala Kottai Sambar or Tamilnadu Style Jackfruit Seeds Sambar.

Ingredients (serves 4-5):

  1. 1/4 cup toor daal
  2. 2 medium-sized drumsticks
  3. 12-15 jackfruit seeds, with the white covering removed
  4. A small lemon-sized ball of tamarind
  5. 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  6. 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  7. 2 pinches of asafoetida
  8. 2 sprigs fresh curry leaves
  9. A pinch of fenugreek seeds
  10. Salt to taste
  11. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  12. Red chilli powder to taste (optional)
  13. About 1-1/2 tablespoons sambar powder or to taste
  14. 1/2 tablespoon jaggery powder or to taste (optional)
  15. 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander

Method:

1. Wash the toor daal well under running water, a couple of times. Drain out all the water, and transfer it to a wide vessel. Add in enough fresh water to cover the toor daal completely, and place the vessel in a pressure cooker. Pressure cook for 5-6 whistles or till the daal is well done and soft. Let the pressure release naturally.

2. Pound the cleaned jackfruit seeds roughly using a mortar and pestle. You may also cut them up roughly if you so like. Place the jackfruit seeds in a wide vessel, and add in a bit of water. Pressure cook the seeds for 4-5 whistles, or until cooked and soft. Let the pressure release naturally.

3. Soak the tamarind in a little hot water for at least 10 minutes. When it is cool enough to handle, add about 1/4 cup fresh water to it, a little at a time, and extract all the juice from it. Keep aside.

4. Remove the tail ends of the drumstick and chop it into 1-inch pieces. Keep aside.

5. When the pressure has completely gone down from the pressure cooker, get the cooked jackfruit seeds out and keep them ready. Mash the cooked toor daal well and keep it handy.

6. Heat the oil in a large pan. Add in the mustard seeds, and allow them to sputter. Now, add the asafoetida, curry leaves and fenugreek seeds. Let them stay in for a couple of seconds.

7. Add the chopped drumsticks to the pan, along with about 1/2 cup of water. Add in a little salt and the turmeric powder. Cook, covered, on medium flame, till they get cooked through but are not overly mushy.

8. Now, add the tamarind extract to the pan. Mix well. Cook on medium flame, uncovered, for about 2 minutes or till the raw smell of the tamarind goes away.

9. Now, add the cooked and mashed toor daal to the pan, along with sambar powder, more salt to taste, jaggery powder and red chilli powder (if using).

10. Immediately add in the cooked jackfruit seeds, along with the water they were cooked in. You will also need to add in 3/4 cup to 1 cup of water, to adjust the consistency of the sambar. Mix well.

11. Cook on medium flame for 3-4 minutes, or till the raw smell of the sambar powder has lessened and the liquid has thickened a bit. Stir intermittently. Switch off gas.

12. Garnish with finely chopped coriander seeds. Serve the Pala Kottai Sambar with steamed rice and a bit of ghee.

Notes:

1. I have added drumsticks to the sambar too, along with the jackfruit seeds, because my daughter loves them. You can omit the drumsticks too, and make the sambar using only jackfruit seeds.

2. I have used home-made sambar powder here, but you may use a store-bought version too if you so prefer.

3. The sambar powder we make at home is quite mild and not very spicy, so I add a bit of red chilli powder to adjust the taste. You can skip the red chilli powder entirely if your sambar powder is spicy enough.

4. Adjust the quantity of toor daal, jackfruit seeds and drumsticks you use, depending upon personal taste preferences.

5. If the tamarind you are using has seeds or impurities, you might want to strain the extract before using it in making the Pala Kottai Sambar. I don’t, since I buy de-seeded tamarind that is free of impurities.

6. Adding the jaggery powder is optional, but I would highly recommend it. It is added in a very small quantity only, and does not make the sambar sweet. In fact, it brings out the other flavours in the sambar beautifully.

7. Make sure the jackfruit seeds are thoroughly clean and free of insects/fungus before using them in making the Pala Kottai Sambar.

8. I do the mustard-fenugreek-asafoetida tempering first, and then go on to make the sambar in the same pan. You can add the tempering at the end as well. A couple of dried red chillies can be added to the tempering, too, if you so prefer.

9. Coconut oil or gingelly (sesame) oil works best in the tempering in this sambar. However, you may use refined oil or ghee instead, too.

10. Adjust the quantity of water you use, depending upon how thick you want the sambar to be. Adjust spices and salt accordingly.

11. This is an entirely plant-based, vegan recipe. It can easily be made gluten-free too, if you skip the asafoetida in the tempering and in the sambar powder.

This Pala Kottai Sambar is definitely something you have to try out, if you haven’t already! Do share your feedback in the comments!

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I’m sharing this recipe with Fiesta Friday #279. The co-hosts this week are Liz @ Spades, Spatulas & Spoons and Jenny @ Apply To Face Blog.

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Mawa Gulab Jamun Recipe| How To Make Gulab Jamun With Khoya

As much as I love everyday stove-top cooking, the making of Indian sweets is one thing that scares me. My mom is famous in the family circuit for the beautiful 7-Cup Barfis, Badam Barfi, Coconut Barfi and Gajar Halwa that she turns out, among many other delectable desserts, but I have always shied away from these. The making of traditional, Indian sweet dishes is a task that daunts me to no end. On festival days or when we have guests over, I stick to making a simple fusion dessert or taking the safe way out with Sakkarai Pongal or Payasam. This is a barrier I had to break, and I did just that with this Mawa Gulab Jamun recipe, recently.

My little daughter is a big fan of gulab jamun, just as everyone else in my family is. After all, who wouldn’t love these balls of bliss, soaked to perfection in sugar syrup? After beginning to conquer my fears with regards to baking, it made sense to start doing the same with a traditional Indian sweet that the bub loved – Gulab Jamun. So, one fine day last week, Amma and I stood side by side in my kitchen making gulab jamuns from scratch with khoya, she pouring out her years of expertise on the subject, me soaking it all in, taking mental notes and making the dessert under her watchful eye. The results were spectacular, I must say, and the gulab jamun went on to be devoured the very same day. The eating proved that this particular pudding was done just right.

That said, I am amazed at how much of that fear was all in my head. Making gulab jamuns from scratch was not at all the hugely difficult task I had thought it would be. It needs patience, yes, but it is also one of the easiest of Indian sweets to conquer. The tricks here are to be gentle with the mixing and do the frying right, and the rest automatically falls into place. I’m so very glad I did this, and hope my lucky stretch continues with the other, tougher Indian desserts that I plan to try out soon.

There are a few different ways to make gulab jamun, one of them being with khoya or mawa. Khoya refers to the milk solids that are left over after cooking milk on the stovetop for a long, long time. Considering how much of a time-consuming process the making of khoya is, we resorted to a store-bought version. A mix of maida and fine sooji has been used here to bind the jamuns, and you can use either.

Come, let me show you how to make gulab jamun with khoya, a la Amma. Here’s presenting the Mawa Gulab Jamun recipe!

Ingredients (makes about 22 small pieces):

  1. 200 grams khoya aka mawa
  2. 2 tablespoons fine sooji aka semolina or rava
  3. 2 tablespoons maida
  4. 1 tablespoon warm milk or as needed
  5. Oil as needed for deep-frying
  6. 1-1/2 cups sugar
  7. 2 cups water
  8. 1/2 teaspoon rose essence (optional)
  9. 1/2 teaspoon cardamom powder

Method:

1. Take the khoya in a large mixing bowl. Crumble it gently, using your hands. Alternatively, you may grate it.

2. Add the sooji and the maida to the mixing bowl. Mix together gently.

3. Add just enough warm milk as needed to bring the mixture to a dough-like consistency.

4. Heat oil as needed for deep frying, in a pan. Meanwhile, keep the dough covered.

5. Simultaneously, take the water in another pan, add the sugar to it, and place on high flame. Allow the sugar to get completely dissolved in the water. Cook on medium heat till the sugar syrup attains half-thread consistency or till it thickens a little. Switch off gas. Add the rose essence (if using) and cardamom powder to the syrup. Mix well. The syrup for soaking the gulab jamuns is ready. Keep aside.

6. When the oil is nice and hot, reduce flame to medium. Greasing your palms with a little oil, make small balls out of the dough we prepared earlier. Deep fry these balls in the hot oil till brown on the outside, about four at a time, taking care not to burn them.

7. As soon as one batch of the balls are fried and ready, drop them into the sugar syrup. Let them sit undisturbed and soak in the syrup. Continue till all the balls are soaked in syrup.

8. Serve the gulab jamun hot or after allowing them to soak for a few hours. Store the unused ones at room temperature, in a clean, dry, air-tight box.

Notes:

1. Make sure the khoya is at room temperature when you begin to make the gulab jamun.

2. Use great-quality khoya from a known source, for best results. I used Milky Mist khoya, which is entirely made using milk solids, with no added flavouring agents or preservatives.

3. Make sure you prepare the ‘dough’ for the gulab jamun using very gentle hands. Gather the ingredients together, using gentle, light movements, rather than kneading them together. This is imperative for getting soft, melt-in-the-mouth gulab jamuns.

4. I have used a mix of fine sooji (aka semolina or rava) and maida in this Mawa Gulab Jamun recipe. You can skip either of these ingredients – just increase the quantity of the other ingredient you are using, in that case.

5. Make sure you fry the gulab jamuns at medium heat. This will help them get evenly cooked, on the inside and the outside. Cooking them on high heat will turn them brown on the outside, but keep them raw inside.

6. You can fry the gulab jamuns in ghee instead of oil. I have used ordinary refined oil here.

7. Do not crowd the pan, while frying the gulab jamun. Fry them in batches, a few at a time. Drop them in the sugar syrup immediately.

8. Make sure the gulab jamuns are not crowded while they are soaking in the syrup. Use a large pan to soak them.

9. Do not overcook the sugar syrup. Stop cooking when the syrup is slightly thick or has attained half-thread consistency.

10. You can skip using the rose essence in the syrup. Real rose petals can be added instead – make sure you use clean, organic, sweet-smelling flowers in that case.

11. Use warm – not hot – milk to bind the ingredients for the gulab jamun. Make sure you use just as much as needed. The dough should be just right to roll into balls and not too sticky or watery.

12. In case the dough gets a bit sticky, you can use a little more fine sooji or maida to adjust it.

13. Use only fine sooji in the Mawa Gulab Jamun recipe, if you are using it at all. Do not use the larger, grainier variety.

14. I have kept the gulab jamun small here, but you could make them bigger as well. Remember that they increase in size further on soaking.

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Foodie Monday Blog HopI’m sharing this recipe with the Foodie Monday Blog Hop. Every Monday, a group of us food bloggers get together and share recipes based on a pre-determined theme. The theme this Monday is #EidWithFoodies, wherein we are all presenting dishes for the festival of Eid that is just around the corner. I thought this Mawa Gulab Jamun recipe was just perfect for the season.

I’m also sharing this post with Fiesta Friday #278.